All Saints: articles

Mitch in the afterlife

AFTER a troubled three-year courtship, All Saints fans rejoiced last year when Dr Mitch Stevens finally got together with long-time love, nurse Terri Sullivan.

Their pairing was one of Australian television's most enduring love affairs—a love story drawn out by Terri's devotion to the church and Mitch's brief marriage to the unstable mother of his child, Rose.

But while Erik Thomson, who plays Mitch, was publicly talking up their long-awaited pairing, he was hiding a dark secret.

"I was having to sit on the fact I was going to leave," Thomson says.

He gave the show's producers a full year to write his character out of the long-running Channel 7 drama, and then had to hide their decision to give Mitch a fatal brain tumour.

While Thomson doesn't explicitly say he was disappointed with the development, he doesn't sound pleased either.

"They said they would look after the character and pretty much they have," he says.

"It can't be about your character every single week. One of the things I had suggested to them was maybe there's a war somewhere and he decides to work for the Peace Corp but that was just something that was lightly put forward.

"Having taken so long (for Mitch and Terri to get together), he probably couldn't have decided he was just going to leave."

Thomson says he made the decision because he felt, after four years and 175 episodes, he had fully explored the character of Mitch Stevens. He also wanted to avoid being typecast.

"As much as the security is there, I think you do get typecast when you're doing it for 42 weeks a year," he says. "From a long-term career perspective, it's not necessarily a good thing to stay there for too long. But those are all intellectual arguments—I made the decision with my heart."

Not all All Saints fans agreed with his decision though. Some Internet fan clubs sent Thomson boxes of little green plastic soldiers (an army they hoped would fight to keep him).

Others jokingly talked about kidnapping him, but Thomson says most understood the decision was his to make.

Thomson's final episode, Only The Good Die Young, was filmed four months ago and will air next week. In the episode Mitch makes a final attempt at life, choosing to undergo a risky operation on his advanced brain tumour.

Thomson said the episode was difficult to film at times as he has close bonds with many cast members, including Georgie Parker. But he says he kept reminding himself he would bump into them "for the rest of my career".

Since leaving All Saints, Thomson has enjoyed his first decent break in a long time. Surfing and relaxing with his wife, Always Greener actor Caitlin McDougall, have been priorities, he says.

Only now, four months after leaving, is he beginning to seriously consider his next move.

"Basically I'm really waiting for the right thing to come along," Thomson says.

"I read a play today, for example, that really excited me and that's the feeling I want.

"It's a luxury that you get after working in telly for that length of time—you get to be a bit choosy for six months of the year."

• All Saints, Seven, Tuesday, 8.30pm.

By Jennifer Dudley
March 27, 2003
The Courier Mail